Sunday, December 11, 2011

What's Your Motivation?

What's going to get you out of bed at 5:30 to workout? What's going to give you the power to keep kicking in doors that continuously slam in your face? How will you keep throwing punches when it seems hopeless?

When I was training full time to become a world ranked tennis player, and my alarm startled me at 5:00 am, I would repeatedly ask, "Why am I doing this? It's 5:00 in the freakin morning." The only thing that got me out of bed and into my cross-trainers was my motivation. After reaching the top step of the local junior college stadium at sunrise, my muscles would tell my mind they couldn't take another step. My stomach would tell my mouth to get ready. Two legged squat jumps up countless number of concrete steps, sprint to the other side of the stadium, walk down, start over. 25 times up, over, and down. When that torture was done, I was still left with another 1 1/2 hours of a different, more difficult type of hell to live through. I was a professional athlete. Sacrifice, pain, and mental discipline was my reality. The only thing that kept me from quitting during these moments of fatigue and nausea was my motivation.

What kept me motivated was the opponent who was working harder than me, and who I would eventually have to compete against. I knew that if I quit, and he didn't ... I had no chance of winning. Every time I heard myself begging myself to stop, I visualized the 6'4" German stud who was waiting for me in the final round of the US Open qualifier, ready to take my head off. If I stopped my workout early, he would destroy me. I became so detailed with this visual, I actually cut out a picture of a German athlete's face, and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I had his sweaty mug burned into my memory. The fear of getting outworked at 5:30 in the morning was more motivating than the trophy and money that came from winning.

When I asked a student today what his motivation was, he couldn't answer. We quickly realized that his commitment wasn't taking shape because he hadn't tapped into that thought, emotion, or dream that would keep him working. He knows that he "wants," and "has to make it happen," but he doesn't know what drives him; what will allow him to kick the door open when it slams in his face. He hasn't created a detailed, emotional visual that will be his fuel when the inevitable pain strikes. He has some soul searching to do.

Your motivation for attaining 1% success needs to be palpable. It needs to elicit real life emotion and adrenalin the second you focus your attention on it. Maybe it's the frustration you felt growing up when THEY said you couldn't ever reach the highest level. Maybe it's the fear of failure. In an amazing interview Will Smith gave about the successful mindset (I posted it here, he talked about his fear of failing, and how this keeps him working harder each day. Motivation is different for everyone, but it's the glue holding your wants and actions together, and is what will keep you on that long term quest for 1% success.

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